Windham Hill does have a legitimate claim to the "original chill out label" slogan it adopted for the Windham Hill Chill sampler series. It had been issuing contemporary instrumental and electronic soundscape-type material since 1976, before such music was blanketed with the new age tag and predating the boom in chillout and downtempo compilations by at least 20 years. That said, there might be a disconnect between "relaxation" -- one of Windham's specialties -- and "chill," a problematic catchall generally referring to the soft hip-hop, electro-acoustic, and dreamy synth textures found on the raft of ultramodern comps clogging a dusty endcap at your local record store. There's crossover in the ambient and acoustic sounds found on Windham Hill Chill. But its content is more literate, emphasizing songcraft, layering, and palpable emotion over chillout's tendencies toward repetitive samples and scratchy drum programming. Disc one mixes the ambient portion of the set. It takes a broad view of the term, blending the breathy ethnic soundscapes of Bernardo Rubaja and César Hernández's "Puerta del Sol" (from 1987) into Yanni's contemplative, romantic piano piece "In the Mirror" (In My Time, 1993), before arriving in the here and now with the moody beats and sway of violinist Lili Haydn's Bill Laswell-produced "Longing." Elsewhere there's Tangerine Dream's "Twin Soul Tribe" and "Another Country" from Shadowfax -- material edging closer to progressive electronica or even contemporary jazz (in the latter case) than what's come to be considered ambient. This interpretational stretch continues with disc two of Windham Hill Chill, subtitled "acoustic." In the chillout context, acoustic often means electro-acoustic -- not so here. From the virtuosic solo guitar work of Michael Hedges and Leo Kottke, to George Winston's plaintive piano chording (the fabulous "Early Morning Range"), this isn't simply music to come down to -- it's stuff that's handmade for introspection. Other highlights include harpist Lisa Lynne's "Welcome," and famous TV composer W.G. Snuffy Walden's "Love Unspoken," with its slightly rustic acoustic guitar figures and tasteful string section swells. Windham Hill Chill, Vol. 2 can certainly be applied as a chillout salve, even if it does stretch out the commonly held notions of what these compilations bring. In the end, it's just relaxing -- soothing -- and isn't that the ultimate goal of this sort of thing, whatever the applied style or label?